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Winter|Hope

How I waited all November for December to come.
How we struggled through that last exam with
Early morning revision and numb hands and cold faces –
Shivering but knowing that it would be over soon enough –
How we trained ourselves to hope back then.
Then, time to bring out the tops and strings and dares;
Time to roll about in dirt until cheeks cracked and

Noses ran when the sun was out; and if not, we crammed
Around the fireplace waiting for the small flame to ignite the coals and wood.

And we played dar-dar among the woods of the adjoining Juniorate – hiding in the strangest nooks.
We crowed at the sun like Lost Boys, we danced in a ring like Lost Boys –
Though we had no idea who they were nor were we boys only.

Nor was it always easy – winter – the neighbourhood
Always reminded me which family I belonged to.
I resented it bitterly but there I was –
Khasi stuck in my throat, wearing clean clothes everyday –
But when the games were in motion, we forgot all about that.
Under earth and leaves, I was like everyone else by the end of the day.

When they turned 16, some discovered cigarettes, sex and beer.
I didn’t – it frightened me then – winter – waiting for friends to go home.
And in the neighbourhood, no one was playing dar-dar anymore.

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